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Assessing Infrastructure Needs: The State of the Art D. Kelly O'Day and Lance A. Neumann INTRODUCTION The Infrastructure Problem There is a growing impression that America's basic public facil- ities its highways, bridges, and water and sewer systems-are badly deteriorated. The national press, trade associations, and now the general public are concerned that these basic systems are in danger of collapse. Each new public works problem is taken as additional proof of the pending crisis facing the urban infrastruc ture. The widespread concern about the condition of the nation's public facilities stems primarily from two sources: the obvious deteriora- tion of highly visible facilities like interstate highways and the fact that both capital and maintenance spending on public infrastruc- ture has been reduced in constant dollars in the past decade. Public works capital investment as a portion of the gross national product has dropped from 4.1 percent in 1965 to 2.3 percent in 1977. Many state and local governments, faced with pressing budget problems, have been forced to reduce capital rehabilitation as well as oper- ating and maintenance budgets for public facilities. A 1981 survey by the American Public Works Association indicates that noncap- ital public works budgets were reduced during the 1970s, if the 67

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68 PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE effects of inflation are considered. The average relative decrease in the 1970-1976 period was 0.18 and 0.66 percent per year for U.S. cities and counties, respectively. The comparable decreases for the 1977-1979 period were 0.44 and 1.55 percent per year. This means that public works operation and maintenance budgets, in constant dollars, were decreasing at an accelerating rate during the 1970s. This trend of declining capital and maintenance budgets raises serious concern about the future condition of public facilities; main- tenance cutbacks are bound to shorten the useful life of facilities at a time when capital rehabilitation funds are limited. At every level of government, elected officials and public works administra- tors are raising questions about the existing and likely future con- dition of public facilities. The heightened awareness of a potential infrastructure crisis has spawned a host of so-called needs studies that have attempted to define the magnitude of the problem ahead in dollar terms. To date these efforts have not created a comprehensive data base or con- ditions assessment, particularly for county and municipal facility systems. Rather, these studies, based on a variety of methods and assumptions, have focused on particular elements of the infrastruc- ture system. While a precise definition of the problem has eluded us, in some areas (particularly highways, bridges, and transit), additional funds are being made available and the rate of system rehabilitation will be increased. Additional needs studies will be conducted (the re- cently passed federal transportation act calls for a $3 million na- tional infrastructure needs study) to further define the problem. Our purpose in this paper is to examine how these additional needs studies can best be used to guide decisions on both the level of investment appropriate for an infrastructure system and the allo- cation of available resources to specific facility improvements and maintenance strategies. National Needs What are the nation's infrastructure needs? Accurate and reliable cost estimates are not available, but various investigators have developed projected needs based on limited data. Table 2-1 sum- marizes a variety of national estimates of capital-expenditure needs for the next 15 years. These estimates represent $2.5-3.0 trillion, a staggering amount of money, equivalent to the 1979 gross na t

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS TABLE 2-1 National Infrastructure Needs, 1982-1997 Sector Nonfederal-aid highway Federal-aid highway Bridges Water supply urban rural Wastewater treatment Mass transit Jails Othera TOTAL Cost ($ billions) 1,000 200-225 50 100-150 45 75-100 80 1,000 2,478-2,578 aIncludes dams, water storage, ports, community buildings, city halls, and recreational facilities. SOURCE: Rochelle Stanfield, National Journal, November 27, 1982. 69 tional product of the United States. Viewed in another way, these costs represent 10 times the estimated total construction activity of the country in 1983, including all public, private, and residential construction. The total nonresidential construction in 1982 was $94.2 billion; the infrastructure-related construction was $25.1 billion, 27 percent of all nonresidential construction or slightly less than 10 percent of all construction. These needs estimates are clearly beyond the country's capabil- ities, raising the question as to whether they are really necessary or represent a "wish list" of projects. Even assuming there is some legitimacy to such overwhelming needs estimates, a critical issue that must be addressed is the degree of priority of different needs within a sector and the appropriate balance in addressing needs in different sectors. The Challenge Ahead There can be little question that the country will face some serious public infrastructure problems in the next decade and beyond. How- ever, there remain some nagging questions about how serious the problem really is and what level of investment is requires! to address it. While elected officials seem increasingly willing to devote ad- ditional resources to rehabilitate selected public facilities, they often have not been armed with the type and quality of information that ought to be a basis for such critical choices. To fell this information

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70 PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE gap, professionals will have to address questions such as: Has the quality of facility inventory and conditions assessments been adequate to identify deficiencies in a consistent and precise manner? Have recent national needs estimates been worth the effort, given the basic methods and assumptions used? Is it useful to divorce needs studies from a broader investment planning process that ultimately is required to allocate resources to specific improvements? Addressing these questions may lead to the conclusion that im- proved approaches to defining infrastructure needs and estimating required levels of investment are but two steps in restructuring and improving the management of public facilities. While there are many deserving needs that should be met, the challenge confronting this symposium and others like it is to ensure that whatever re- sources can be made available are managed and used in as cost- effective a manner as possible. This will require moving beyond arbitrary definitions of need and design standards to a much more creative approach to public works management. DEFINING NEEDS Needs Versus Desirable Improvements A critical issue involved in defining infrastructure needs is com- municating a realistic sense of the urgency of responding to various levels of need and the consequence of ignoring, or postponing a response to, any unmet needs. Decision makers need to know the real impacts of varying levels of infrastructure investment before they can make meaningful judgments about the appropriate level of resources to devote to the very real and serious problems con- fronting the nation's public investment priorities. In short, for a definition of capital needs to be useful it must describe more than the total dollars required in a particular sector over some long time period. Unfortunately, the approach taken to defining need in many stud- ies has been, and continues to be, very narrow and of limited use- fulness in guiding resource allocation decisions at any level of gov- ernment. In a recent speech focusing on the desirability of a national capital budget, Senator Tsongas (D-Massachusetts) noted that Con

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 71 gross cannot deal with needs estimates ranging from hundreds of billions to tens of trillions of dollars for the highway system. When confronted with such ranges, the needs estimates become almost irrelevant. Needs defined in this traditional manner have referred to the level of investment required to either complete construction of a new system or to bring existing facilities up to some prespecif~ed standard. While the standard or standards chosen often include physical condition and design criteria as well as level of service and demand-related criteria, most needs studies have been based on unstated assumptions about economic, social, and environmental objectives, performance standards, and growth trends. These stand- ards themselves, as well as the ability to clearly relate infrastruc- ture investment and performance levels to broader objectives, par- ticularly economic objectives, are being questioned. The result of the traditional needs approach generally has been estimates of capital investment requirements far in excess of avail- able resources or even the most optimistic projections of new rev- enue sources. As a result, many needs studies have been viewed as self-serving and lacking any real credibility. Long-range needs es- timates, in the abstract and independent of short-range budget de- cisions, are difficult to understand and often are not very useful. Ultimately, tough priority decisions have to be made about how to spend available resources, and too often needs studies have provided no real guidance on how to separate desirable improvements from critically important investments required to maintain essential service levels. It is this lack of differentiation between various levels or priority of needs that has severely limited many past needs studies. Undue emphasis has been placed on coming up with a total dollar amount without careful analysis of the underlying assumptions or the ef- festiveness of providing varying levels of investment. One factor that has led to an overly narrow definition of needs is the view that needs studies are primarily a vehicle to lobby for additional funds. Of course, demonstrating a level of need and jus- tifying particular funding levels is a necessary and important part of the capital investment planning process. However, almost any program can demonstrate a large backlog of unmet and deserving needs. While one approach is to develop needs lists or wish lists for each sector requiring capital investments and hope that decision makers guess well, a sound capital investment strategy is unlikely

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72 PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE to result from such a process. This is particularly true at the state and local levels, where decisions concerning specific individual fa- cilities must ultimately be made. Alternatively, needs studies can be redefined to relate potential investment levels more explicitly to system performance and pro- vide a clearer sense of the importance of satisfying different levels of investment need. Needs definer! in this way will not be absolute or particularly amenable to naive characterization by one total dollar level. Nonetheless, a broader definition of need and more effort devoted to differentiating the importance of meeting different needs will provide a more effective basis for decisions on both the appropriate level of capital investment and the most cost-effective allocation of any given amount of available resources. The Needs Assessment Process The two key activities in the needs assessment process are: inventory and conditions assessment of existing facilities both currently and in light of estimates of future usage and identification of the desired level or levels of maintenance and improvement. Development of a new and broader needs assessment process and a more useful definition of needs requires a careful analysis of the appropriate approaches to both these activities. The inventory and conditions assessment of existing facilities is a relatively straightforward and value-free task in theory. In prac- tice, however, given the enormity of the job for some public infra- structure systems, a wide range of approaches has been taken for getting some estimate of current conditions. To the extent that the inventory and conditions assessment is a detailed facility-by-facility appraisal by trained professionals based on sound engineering data and measurements, debate over the current condition and projected future condition of facilities can be minimized. However, when the conditions assessment is based on a sample of facilities, performed by relatively inexperienced staff or performed using very crude assumptions and measures of conditions, questions about the real condition of a particular system will frustrate any attempt to define the capital investment needed to maintain or improve the system. Again, it is recognized that needs studies conducted at different levels of government are often satisfying different objectives and

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 73 must rely on different analysis approaches. Our primary concern is viewing needs studies from the perspective of state and local governments that ultimately have operating responsibility for maintaining urban infrastructure. There have been many attempts to define highway conditions (and ultimately investment needs) based on a small sample of road segments. A recent study of all rural public facilities was based on a survey of a very few local officials in a very large number of rural communities rather than a very detailed study of actual facility conditions in a much smaller number of communities. Although such approaches may serve some limited objectives at the federal level for getting an idea of how bad the problem might be, they may not provide a very sound basis for determining appropriate capital investment levels and strategies. Ultimately, good invest- ment decisions generally will require a detailed appraisal of each facility compared with overall system conditions, and it would be much better for any serious needs assessment process to start with such an appraisal. While not perfect, the national bridge inventory and inspection program offers an example of an attempt to provide a comprehensive and sound facility conditions data base as a foun- dation for judging the nation's bridge needs. The critical components of an inventory and conditions assess- ment process should be: an overall description of the system (location, physical descrip- tion, capacity, etc.~; structural integrity; the quality of service and level of usage; safety; and the role of each facility in the overall system (i.e., some func- tional classification). While the specific data and criteria that are appropriate will vary widely depending on the type of system (highway, water distribu- tion, sewer, etc.) being examined, detailed and specific information on the items identified above will be critical both to define mean- ingfu} investment needs and to maintain, improve, and manage the system over time, irrespective of the level of resources allocated. Once an inventory and a conditions assessment of existing facil- ities have been completed, the appropriate level or levels of main- tenance and improvement can be determined once assumptions about future usage and facility conditions have been made. As described

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74 PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE earlier, this element of the needs process has often been accom- plished in an extremely mechanical way by comparing each facility to a prespecified set of standards and simply defining needs as the cost of bringing each facility up to standards. While such an ap- proach has an attractive simplicity to it, the results in general will not provide a good basis for determining the appropriate level of investment and how to allocate funds among various facilities. The appropriate level of investment in any component of public infrastructure will depend on the effectiveness of a particular in- vestment level in meeting a variety of economic and social objectives compared with investments in other infrastructure systems or other programs. While measuring the effectiveness of public investments has always been difficult, some measures of effectiveness and output can be defined for each infrastructure system. Explicitly relating investment to output, however defined, will almost always be pref- erable to assuming that a set of design standards can serve as an adequate proxy. Some studies are already moving in this direction. For example, federal highway needs studies that have been con- ducted periodically since the late 1960s have increasingly stressed performance criteria and the monitoring of system conditions. In. fact, a soon-to-be-released federal highway performance study will include an analysis of the economic impacts of highway improve- ments and systems performance. However, further steps can be taken to evaluate the real effectiveness of varying levels of highway investment, and many needs studies still rely exclusively on design standards to define needed levels of investment. The approach to defining investment needs recommended here recognizes that, from a practical point of view, the appropriate level of investment in any particular facility will depend on many factors in addition to the specific physical conditions of, and quality of service provided by, the facility. The general condition of the rest of the system of which the facility is a part; the role and importance of the facility in the overall system; and the total resources avail- able all should influence the type of improvements that are ap- propriate for any particular facility. In fact, given the interdepen- dencies between all the components of an infrastructure system and the relationship between the appropriate level of improvement for a particular facility and the total budget available, it may often be necessary to define several investment levels or scenarios. The ef- fectiveness of each potential investment level, in terms of perform- ance and impact criteria, would have to be evaluated before the

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 75 appropriate or "needed" investment level could be defined with any degree of rigor. Except for certain minimum criteria, as discussed in the next section, design standards or policy may have to be determined as part of the investment needs and resource allocations process not as an input to or a constraint imposed on that process. While in general we are arguing for a broader definition of needs and a more complex needs assessment process, we do recognize that there may be instances in which decision makers simply want to know what it would take to bring elements of the public infrastruc- ture up to certain standards. It is simply our feeling that when such analyses lead to widely varying ranges of needs or needs estimates far in excess of reasonably available resources, the results are of limited value and a poor guide to where to allocate less than the "needed" amount of investment. The Role of Standards While in many needs studies there has been an overreliance on using design standards as a yardstick for measuring needs, there is an important role for standards in defining capital infrastructure needs. Standards can help ensure that consistent approaches are used in improving similar facilities, provide for compatibility of all elements in a system to ensure continuity of service, offer potential cost savings by limiting the scope of potential improvements, and, most important, represent one key mechanism to provide for public safety through good engineering design. Given these important functions, the issue is not whether design standards are required but what level of service (including safety) they should reflect and how much flexibility should be allowed to tailor improvement or maintenance strategies to particular facilities. There is a critical need to reexamine current standards applicable to each public system. Questions that need to be addressed include: Have standards risen too fast to be realistic guides for wholesale rehabilitation of extensive existing infrastructure that has been put into place over many decades? Do older facilities really have to meet new facility standards? Have the reliability versus risk assumptions embedded in cur- rent standards created too great a margin of safety for a given facility in light of systemwide rehabilitation needs?

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76 PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE When standarcis are being set by different levels of government, an additional question must be asked about different perceptions of needs and good design practice at the federal, state, and local levels. Again, there will be cases in which consistency and uniform stand- ards may be appropriate, but in many others the costs of such uniformity simply does not make sense given a backlog of critical structural or safety needs that can be addressed with "substandard" approaches. The overriding issue in the debate over the appropriate level of standards is whether it is better to improve a few facilities to strin- gent standards or many more to lower standards. Obviously the answer depends on what the lower standards are and what they imply for safety, service, and ultimately the cost-effectiveness of the pattern of investments proposed for an entire infrastructure system. Summary It is becoming clear that the concept of needs embodied in the traditional infrastructure needs study is inappropriate for dealing with the problem of allocating funds to a range of infrastructure areas or particular facilities within~one area. Typically these tra- ditional studies: els; have been unrelated to what might actually be accomplished with less than the "needed" level of resources; have definer! projects that may or may not be cost-effective investments, irrespective of the actual budget available; and have been no real guide to tough priority decisions at the fa- cility-by-facility level. What is necessary to replace this approach is a process that relates the investment level that is thought to be needed to the productivity or effectiveness of those investments compared with different in- vestment levels and ultimately investments in other areas as well. Thus a broader needs approach requires a more refined evaluation process to ensure that scarce funds are employed most procluctively. Because traditional needs studies have been divorced from the process of fund allocation to infrastructure areas, geographic re- gions, or specific projects, the results have tendec! to be estimates have not reflected any policy choices or alternative service lev

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 77 of dollar needs far in excess of the funds available. Such studies have been of limited usefulness in guiding investment decisions on how to effectively use a much smaller amount of money. If the funds for a major capital investment identified as needed by such a study were simply not available, the study would not be of much use in determining where smaller investments would be most effective. In short, needs cannot be defined in a vacuum. Consideration of realistic budget levels, multiple objectives, and the most efficient way they might be met requires that needs studies evolve as part of a much broader allocation and investment planning process. THE CONDITION ASSESSMENT PROCESS Defining Conditions The previous section pointed out the neec} for accurate, reliable information on facility conditions as the first step in determining need. This section discusses condition assessment in some detail both to review current practice and to suggest approaches that have been successful. Condition assessment inclucles the process of measuring the phys- ical condition of facilities, using specific, clearly defined indicators. It should be based, to the extent possible, on observable and meas- urable indicators to limit judgment and ensure consistency. Various studies have used readily available fiscal measures like mainte- nance budget trends as surrogates for condition measures. It should be clear that maintenance investment per year, even if it is (lropping over time, does not indicate the existing condition of facilities. Like- wise, capital investment trends do not indicate current condition. Condition Assessment Measures Condition assessment is a critical element of the overall needs assessment process. It should be reviewed in some detail. Facility condition must be assessed on several dimensions, including safety and structural integrity, adequacy of capacity, quality of service, and system role. The overall condition of a facility is actually a composite of its rating on each dimension. In addition, it is necessary to recognize that these dimensions embody inherent value judg- ments that affect the evaluation. For example, most would agree that the structural safety of a bridge is more important than its ride quality.

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 99 a base for all investments in maintenance. Without reliable infor- mation, there are no assurances that facility conditions will be affected by investments. Replacement needs can be more precisely determined if sound conditions data are available. Agencies should adopt a three-phase approach to developing re- liable condition data: develop a facility inventory with a performance monitoring rec- ords system; conduct routine condition surveys; and conduct research on facility failures, trends, and alternative solutions. Conditions vary widely from agency to agency and within agency systems. Pragmatic applied research into agency patterns, coupled with sound information in a usable information management sys- tem, will benefit the agency substantially. The Importance of the Investment Decision-Making Process Public works agencies must reevaluate their decision-making process for capital and maintenance investments to ensure that the best allocation of resources is made to programs and to projects within programs. With substantial needs and limited resources, it is critical to get maximum value from available funds. In many cases, this may require significant changes in program manage- ment and maintenance practices. Careful systematic analysis, like that suggested above, cannot increase funding; it can, however, ensure that the available funds are spent more electively. This will require reassessing both capital and operating budgets in setting priorities to ensure that the most critical projects are selected. Research Agenda There are many potential areas of research on the management of infrastructure maintenance. We believe that research on the technical aspects of condition assessment, the role of standards on investment, and the investment decision-making process are fruit- fu! areas for study. Particular areas of research include: Conditions Assessment Research on existing methods of as- sessing infrastructure for each type of facility should be conducted

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100 PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE with the objective of recommending measures for assessing struc- tural integrity, adequacy of capacity, quality of service, and facility role. Additional research should also be done to determine facility deterioration rates under varying conditions and the appropriate criteria for measuring and monitoring facility conditions over time. The Value of Information Systems in Condition Assessment It would be useful to analyze the experiences of federal, state, ant! local agencies in the use of information systems in infrastructure management. Are the full potentials of these technologies being realized? The Role of Stanclards Research is needed on the technical, economic, and legal implications of the standards promulgated by professional associations, trade groups, and the federal government. Are standards continually rising, and, if so, what are the impli- cations of"standards creep" on infrastructure decisions? More anal- ysis of the cost of additional standards or regulations should be performed. The Role of Risk Analysis in Infrastructure Decision Making- Are risk analysis methodologies being used in decision making, and, if not, what are their potential benefits in determining con- ditions and evaluating options? Life-Cycle Cost Analysis Research is needed to determine the most appropriate repair, rehabilitation, and maintenance strategies for different facility systems, including a further exploration of the different maintenance options available for each facility system. Methods for Evaluating Benefits ant! Costs-Knowledge is very limited about the benefits and costs of various levels of system conditions and performance and the trade-offs involved in main- taining different levels of service. Improved approaches for this type of analysis are needed within each infrastructure area and to com- pare the effects of improving one infrastructure system (e.g., high- ways) with another (e.g., water distribution). BIBLIOGRAPHY American Public Works Association 1981 Public Works Management Trends and Development. Special Report 47. Chi- cago: American Public Works Association. 1981 Revenue Shortfall. Chicago: American Public Works Association. Choate, Pat, and Walter, Susan 1981 America in Ruins: Beyond the Public Works Pork Barrel. Washington, D.C. Council of State Planning Agencies.

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 101 Comptroller General of the United States 1981 Deteriorating Highways and Lagging Revenues: A Need to Reassess the Fed- eral Highway Program. Report prepared for U.S. Congress, March 5. CONSAD 1980 A Study of Public Works Investment in United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. Available from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Va. Cooper, Thomas W. 1981 State Highway Finance Trends. Report prepared for the Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C. Federal Highway Administration 1981 Highway Investment Practices and Trends. Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C. National Chamber Foundation 1981 Transport Tomorrow: A National Priority. Report prepared by Paul O. Roberts and The Center for Transportation Policy Research at the University of Cal- ifornia, Berkeley. National Cooperative Highway Research Program 1980 Synthesis 72: Transportation Needs Studies and Financial Constraints. Report prepared by Thomas F. Humphrey. Washington, D.C.: Transportation Re- search Board. National Transportation Policy Study Commission 1979 Final Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Neumann, Lance A., and Dresser, Joseph 1980 A New Approach for Analyzing Highway Program Choices and Tradeoffs. Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board. O'Day, D. Kelly 1981 Philadelphia Infrastructure Survey. Center for Philadelphia Studies, School of Public and Urban Policy, 4025 Chestnut St., Suite 600-T7, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104. Peterson, George E., ed. 1981 America's Urban Capital Stock. Six vols. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute. Phillips, Bruce A. 1980 The Deterioration of U.S. Roads: Estimates of Dollar Needs. General Motors Research Pub. GMR:3515. Reed, Marshal 1981 Principles of Highway Finance. Highway Users' Federation, Washington, D.C. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1980 New York City Water Supply Infrastructure Study. Vol. 1: Manhattan. N.Y. District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. U.S. Secretary of Transportation 1981 A Revised Estimate of the Cost of Completing the National System of Inter- state and Defense Highways. Report to the U.S. Congress. 1981 The Status of the Nation's Highways: Conditions and Performance. Report to the U.S. Congress. Wisconsin Department of Transportation 1980 Six Year Highway Improvement Program 1980-85. Unpublished report.

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102 Harry Ha try PERSPECTIVES ON URBANINFRASTRUCTURE DISCUSSION I basically agree with the major points made by O'Day and Neu- mann, and ~ will expand on their material to suggest a research agenda. ~ particularly like the way they have defined needs as- sessment in a broad way, not only looking at condition assessments, but also looking at specific facilities, the alternatives available, and the levels of available funding. Let me address briefly the problem of choice, drawing on work we have been conducting at the Urban Institute. It is a classic systems problem. First, there is a vital need for inventories and condition assessments at the local level; unfortunately, there are a number of dependent variables that need to be identified. In each specific case a number of objective criteria must be examined, such as the number of water main breaks, the number of people served, etc. Second, there are independent, exogenous variables that over- lap each system. For example, soil conditions, weather, traffic loads, and other demand conditions must be considered. They will vary among local areas and, in many cases, within different parts of local areas. For each situation there will be alternative actions that can be taken. These may range from replacement of a facility to emergency repairs and variations of preventive maintenance. For each possible action there are effects on service quality and costs for the long and the short term. Another important factor is citizen expectation for the level of service a facility provides. There is also, of course, uncertainty about the future and funding constraints. Nonlinearities are common in these problems. including inter ~ ~ 7 0 relatedness. Scheduling situations arise, for example, when it is possible to deal with more than one problem at a time due to an emergency response to a single problem, such as major road repair. (It may be possible and more efficient to repair the sewers and water mains at the same time.) While local governments must make the ultimate choices about what to do, our focus should be on a national research agenda, which can ultimately help local and state governments help themselves. Six major topics should be included in the agenda. 1. Improver' condition assessment tools. While methods have im- proved in recent years, there is room for still more improve

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 103 meet. The basic issue is one of reliability. As pointed out by the example of the bridge survey, the question is whether different raters will come to the same determination with re- gard to the condition of a facility. We can improve both the techniques and the training involved so that more reliable results can be obtained and they can be used by decision mak- ers with greater confidence. We must also be concerned with the cost of those procedures. For local and state government to regularly monitor the condition of their facilities, they must have methods that are relatively practical and inexpensive. Therefore, we should look particularly for low-cost approaches. 2. Improved information on the rates of deterioration of different types of infrastructure. Some work has been done on this topic, but it is just a beginning. There is a need to develop data on deterioration rates that take into consideration such condi- tions as soils, weather, loading factors, materials used, and construction methods rather than merely to provide averages for particular facilities at national or even citywide levels. 3. Better analytical tools for making trade-off analyses. There is a need to use risk, cost-effectiveness, and cost-benefit analyses and other tools to deal with multiple criteria, nonlinearities, and uncertainties. Local governments need to know which technique should be used and to what extent for specific sit- uations. Too many governments use a simple "worst first" approach to determining how to set their priorities. That a facility is near collapse does not necessarily mean that its repair or replacement should be given top priority. It may, for instance, be far more cost-effective to devote resources to pre- ventive maintenance of facilities that are heavily used than to repair a facility that is less important in the functioning of the system. In other cases, such as water mains, a low rate of failure may offer a policy choice of accepting the temporary disruption caused by such failures and to undertake a program of emergency repairs rather than a far more costly systematic replacement program. 4. More comprehensive information on individual maintenance alternatives. This includes information on the service quality, life effects, and durability of a facility. It would be desirable to develop a cost and durability handbook providing ranges of costs, under different conditions, for different types of main- tenance options.

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104 PERSPECTIVES ON URBANINFRASTRUCTURE 5. Better information on new technologies. There are a number of new technologies that are available but have not gotten to the public works departments. Information on new technolo- gies is fragmentary and incomplete. Information is especially needed on the conditions under which these technologies are applicable. 6. The issue of regulations and standards, particularly those that are generated nationally. Standards can cause many problems. What is needed is an independent and professional check of standards and analysis of their implications and effects on immediate costs and on operating costs over the long run. These are difficult research issues, but action on them could make the process of choice substantially easier for local governments. Kurt W. Bauer O'Day and Neumann have provided us with a valid critique of the shortcomings of infrastructure needs studies conducted to date. Such studies have tended to produce needs assessments, which, because of the sheer magnitude of the estimated need, have low credibility with elected officials and the public. The chapter clearly identifies the need to improve these studies if they are to be used to guide decisions about the level of investment appropriate and the allocation of available resources to specific improvements within a system. It also identifies the questions that should be addressed to improve needs assessments. In particular, needs studies should address issues of priorities between sectors or within sectors so that available resources can be used in the most cost-effective manner. The key problem is to provide a continuing and accurate inventory of the capacity of facilities to meet both current and future require- ments for use. My principal criticism of the chapter is in what it does not say. It does not deal explicitly with one of the most important issues concerning infrastructure: how needs assessment relates to com- prehensive planning efforts, including the comprehensive land use plan. This issue is raised but not addressed. For instance, they discuss how needs assessments should be related to the broader investment planning process so as to more rationally allocate re- sources between and within sectors. These priorities and allocations should be based on a variety of broader social ant! economic objec

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 105 fives. This is a task that can be accomplished properly only in the context of a comprehensive plan. Indeed, the description of the im- proved needs assessment process set forth in the paper is a descrip- tion of the classic comprehensive planning process. The case studies too are inadequate in their relevance to a com- prehensive planning process. The Wisconsin transportation needs study, for example, is clearly an improvement over earlier studies of a similar type, yet it does not relate alternative improvement and maintenance strategies to the highway system as a whole. It did not consider how the development of the highway system would relate to other mode} systems. These are serious shortcomings impeding the development of the whole system. They are now being corrected by the state transportation department as it integrates its highway plans into the broader state transportation plan. A similar observation can be made with respect to the EPA survey of wastewater treatment systems. It failed to relate needs for water pollution abatement to detailed areawide plans for water quality management, even though the requirement for such plans was fed- erally mandated. The serious shortcomings of any needs assessment process, how- ever technically sophisticated, outside the context of the compre- hensive planning process are illustrated by a few examples. If, for instance, a needs assessment indicates that a section of a combined sanitary and storm sewer system should be reconstructed, how, in the absence of a comprehensive plan, does one determine whether to reconstruct it as a combined or separated facility? The far-reach- ing implications of that question deserve some contemplation in the design of needs assessment systems. Such questions extend to other kinds of facilities and systems, such as wastewater treatment, surface and groundwater quality management, and street improve- ment and maintenance issues. Moreover, such questions extend to issues of land use, development, and redevelopment. The choices made can have important implications for the economic develop- ment of an area as well as for issues of social equity in a community. Similarly, if there is a need for a waste treatment plant, how does one decide, in the absence of a comprehensive plan, the size of the plant, the level of treatment to be provided, and the service area to be used? If a bridge must be reconstructed, how can a decision be made on the design capacity and the level of service to be provided without reference to some broader system plan for transportation and land use? These few examples suggest the need to relate in

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106 PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE frastructure neecis assessments ant} the maintenance ant! improve- ment process to a comprehensive plan. In summary, the chapter provides a useful critique of the state of the art of needs assessment. It offers some sounc! suggestions for incremental improvement of these processes. But it stops short of aciciressing one of the key policy issues in infrastructure needs as- sessment-the relationship to the comprehensive planning process. Without this relationship such assessments cannot be user! as sounc} guides for determining the appropriate levels of investment in a given infrastructure system or the allocation of resources to specific facilities. Only within the context of the comprehensive planning process can these two important functions be aclequately aciciressecI. More important, only in that context can one determine the extent to which investment decisions meet broacler social ant! economic objectives. Thus, one of the key policy issues is the relationship of infrastructure programs to comprehensive planning objectives. SUMMARY Preparation of Inventories and Needs Analyses The owners of facilities should be responsible for needs analyses and condition assessments, developing an ongoing set of tools ant! processes. Fecleral ant} state guidance in methods ant! stanciarcis can be helpful, but the owners shouIcI clo the actual evaluations themselves. They may need assistance the first time. The bridge survey was successful because it was concluctec! uncler a fecleral- state-Iocal partnership. The fecleral government proviclecI 100 per- cent of the funcling for the survey, but the work was clone at state and local levels. The kind of partnership and the ratio of funcling may cliffer for other facilities, however, such as water systems. The important point is to involve those who must use the information in its clevelopment. Cost is an important consideration in needs assessment. Local governments must be convinced that the benefit to them in im- provec! decision making is worth the cost of fincling out the condition of their facilities. They are more likely to unclerstand the value of needs assessment if they help produce it ant! use it in making ~ c ,eclslons. Guidance from higher levels is also a key concept. One important consideration is the use that may be macle of aggregates! ciata from

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 107 local sources at the state or national level. Where they may be used to develop formulas for the allocation of funds to the states, as in the case of funding for bridge replacement, it is important that the data be both reliable and comparable across jurisdictions. Needs studies that are driven wholly by federal programs may distort the problem at the local level, however. National Versus Local-Leve! Data The idea that the collection of data should necessarily make for better decisions was challenged, particularly for data at the na- tional level. A major use of the national bridge survey data is to facilitate decisions on resource allocation among the states. At the local level, however, the data are more useful in planning, and most of the necessary data are available at the local level. They are not always good, but there are no magic solutions to the information problem of telling managers what they need to do. Planning, to be effective, should be on a relatively small scale and within the scope of what can be done. National inventory data, it was argued, are of questionable value. Some went so far as to characterize national inventories as a waste of money. The collection of data at the local level should be designed to facilitate local decisions. The process should be one that proceeds from the bottom up and ought not go overboard in the collection of information for its own sake. It was pointed out that the majority of decisions by public works directors are made in a continuing, incremental process. Most of them want to improve the process and the quality of the data they use. The acid test of the utility of condition and needs assessments or inventories is whether they help elected officials in making a case for facility improvements and maintenance. Inventories are often used primarily to justify federal or other funding for projects. We should move from inventories to planning, including a consideration of whether all the infrastructure we have . . . in every city IS necessary. Interim Assessments The bridge inventory took 5 years to complete. Underground sys- tems are far more difficult to inspect and assess. A critical question involves interim assessments. Many cities already have reasonably

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108 PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE good information on their experience with breaks and pressure problems in water mains or sewers. Most could improve their ability to establish priorities by relatively simple computerized manipu- lations of these data and could improve their access to the infor- mation already obtained, which could be used as a springboard to a more comprehensive inventory system. There is, of course, a wide spectrum of capability. Some cities, such as Houston and New York, keep track of their experience and use it to set program priorities. Others record nothing. The important thing is to use the infor- mation on experience that is available to avoid having to use rules of thumb, such as replacement cycles, as a basis for capital im- provement planning and programming. A city can get away from generalized numbers and rules of thumb by looking at its own experience. Data Available for Neects Assessments A lot of information is available. The federal surveys of needs for various facilities, for instance, produce a great (leal of data at the state level. The important consideration in developing a local data system is to build as much as possible from the bottom up, while developing and using common instruments and tools. The federal government could contribute most by developing tools for use by local govern- ment, in contrast to mandating that certain data be collected. Needs should be defined in terms of the mission of the agency and the purpose of a facility, rather than in terms of a checklist mentality. This can help identify facilities that are no longer needed, sug- gesting the wisdom of bringing the assessment process into a broader planning process, in contrast to the planning process required by Section 208 of the Clean Water Act (P.~. 92-500), in which building came before planning. Planning involves stating the mission and getting agreement on it. The notion of using comprehensive planning as the context for assessment was challenged, however, on the ground that planning often is not a useful process for those who must make capital in- vestment decisions. Data, it was asserted, are not useful to anyone other than those for whom they are collected. It is important to develop data that get politicians to pay attention to a problem. A comprehensive plan does no more than address the needs of a par- ticular set of decision makers. The task of getting together all the

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ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS 109 knowledge about a problem in one place for a single decision maker is futile. A more realistic goal is to provide specific information to particular decision makers. In response, the Wisconsin local planning process, involving the clevelopment of an annual and a 5-year capital program, was cited as a workable planning system. It was asserted, however, that cap- ital programs were frequently changed and that projects proposed for the last years of any program do not resemble what is eventually built. It was pointed out that a working capital improvement process contemplates changes in the program in light of events and new information and therefore must be a continuous process. It is critical to have the key decision makers involved in the capital budgeting and programming process. One participant suggested that the best argument in favor of planning is the way decisions are currently being made. In planning it is important to create ant! discuss multiyear financial scenarios so that choices can be clarified for those who must make the finan- cial decisions. The iclea that all participants professionals, citizens, and elected officials will agree on the same information and its meaning is utopian. All information is self-serving and should be. Not everyone has the same role in the process. The Qua1tity of Engineering Knowledge Need is not an absolute quality but is often in the eye of the beholder. Infrastructure problems may be satisfied in some in- stances by more efficient operation, upgrading performance instead of building better or rebuilding. In other cases, allowing further deterioration of a facility may be more logical than repairing or replacing it. Professionals shout make the alternatives and the risks involved in these choices more explicit for the political decision makers, understanding that the professional's "best choice" may not be the decisive one, as the political process has the final say. Early on the engineers need to make their own assumptions, de- velop possible alternatives and their risks, and clarify the tracle- offs to give the public an opportunity to make decisions.